Web Design, Murals, Fine Art, Faux Finishing

Library, Foils and Faux Finishing

Faux finishing with foils, copper finish
Home Library with copper foil and patina

I had a request recently about replicating a patina copper finish in a library area for a local church that brought to mind a library that we did several years ago for a client on Marco Island that turned out fantastic. It actually involved the use of foils that are used in a totally different kind of industry but because of the “outside of the box” kind of thinking that artists are known for there was an artist who discovered that foils could be used in faux finishing which brings me to this article on

Library, Foils and Faux Finishing

When explaining to someone that is not familiar with the use of foils in faux finishing the best way I have found to explain it is to simply say that it is similar to gold leaf, only less expensive and faster to apply.

However, it is more laborious to apply than if you were just to use a copper paint. The other part of this is the fact that no metallic paint will shine like foils or at least not to my knowledge that I have ever seen in my 30 plus years of painting.

As we were discussing a time to set up a meeting and other formalities I was trying to explain the look of foils when it dawned on me that I have not posted about this technique or even had a Home Library category on this blog.

At any rate, I will explain a little about the foils here so I can send it to my clients plus leave something informational for others to refer to.

The Library or home office

is a standard for most homes in Naples Florida

But this one had 14 ft ceilings which made the application of the foils a bit tricky. Foils are only available in 2 ft and 1 ft wide rolls and we needed to install it vertically like wallpaper, but with one little hitch, you see just as you would do when installing gold leaf you first have to roll a couple of coats of “sizing” on the walls in order for the foils to transfer to the wall. The foils are actually a very fine film that is attached to a backing in such a way that when pressed into the sizing it will stick to the wall to allow you to pull the backing off thus leaving the foils attached to the wall. This, in turn, made the job very tricky, or should I say sticky, so when you think of 14ft strips of foil 2 ft wide, a sticky wall and three artists practically standing on each other’s shoulders to keep the strips of foil straight without it touching the wall, it was a pretty comical watching the process…..my only regret is I didn’t have a video camera to record it at the time.

This first photo of the foils in this library was taken without a flash to capture the actual look in its natural settings the other photos of the library were taken with a flash which may look a little strong in the other photos but I wanted to make sure when adding the patina effect that my color values were incorrect contrast for compositional reasons.

Faux finishing with foils, copper finish
Home Library with copper foil and patina

Faux Finishing this Library was done with a nautical design, which is why you see what appears to be copper plates with rivets which really adds to the theme we were trying to reach for this client. A library such as this one needed to make a statement in its interior design personally I like the traditional feel that it makes. I believe a library should have a warm welcome to be able to sit and enjoy a good read or to do a focused research project. The coldness of the more modern contemporary styles that I have seen today just don’t work for me and I couldn’t see myself spending much time in a room with the bright colors and high gloss finishes that I have seen, but then again that’s just my own opinion and if someone wanted chrome graphics on a library wall we can do that too with the use of foils.

using foils for faux finishing
Foils with a flash setting

Although I have posted these photos of this library in an earlier blog post I am in the process of updating a lot of my old stuff to make it easier to find. I have several foil finishes available and will start posting more on these in the future as well as library faux finishing techniques. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of what can be accomplished with the many different mediums that I work with. Mixed media is what makes up my versatility and creativeness and that’s probably why a lot of my work is regarded as “specialty finishes” but in actuality, all the faux finishing I do is special to me and my clients.

Home library faux finish
14 ft walls was a challenge

There are a number of colors available for foils and just about every kind of look can be achieved. Foils are great under textures or as a background for murals. The versatility of this medium can be used for old world as well as modern contemporary.

Foiled again! Library faux finishes
Foiled again!

Foils can have there owned uniqueness depending on how they are used, especially for library applications.

Although I could go on and on about this unique medium I believe that nearly at 1000 words that this post is now approaching I should close and move on to my next faux finishing project.

Just keep in mind that foils come in a variety of different colors and looks and I have many unique designs and will post about in the future.

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9 thoughts on “Library, Foils and Faux Finishing”

  1. Hi Arthur, I do faux finishing in the Phoenix area but I’ve not used the technique you describe here. Looking at the photos, did you use more than one layer of foil to get that paneled effect? Also, would it be possible to cut the foil to length, roll it up and then unroll it down the wall, or do you have to apply adhesive directly to the back of the foil? it’s a really interesting finish which I’d like to have a go at but it seems like it might be unmanageable for one person. Thanks.

    • Well, for the first part of your question the paneled effect is actually sections of styrene boards cut to size and applied to the wall and the same for the “rivets”. After the layout was completed then the whole room was base painted before the foil was applied. The actual design was a creation of Pam and David Schmidt of PJD Creations. A husband/wife team I met many years ago of based in Indiana.
      The sizing is applied directly to the wall and to unroll the foil down a 14 ft span and keep it straight is tough to accomplish. This finish can be done by one person in smaller areas but the larger projects I would find a friend.

  2. Art, this is “‘ TERRIFIC “” work, Okay NOW I am really interested !! Can hardly wait to start… I will keep you posted on my success…
    God Bless,
    Christopher Lee Chesser

    • Thanks Denise always good to hear from you, The last few pictures really don’t do the finish justice, believe it or not in the natural light of the room the hue is much cooler which is why the first picture was taken without the flash. I have others that I took the same way but they show much darker than what it really is. I never was much of a photographer but it is something more that I am learning about. It’s really amazing how one art form leads to another.

    • Hi Regina, Thanks for the comment, yes the application is easy once learned but here in the Southwest of Fl. the oil base size is very temperamental. The tack time can actually vary from one wall to the next. I used the oil base throughout this project but then went to the water base and have had much better control.

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